For decades scientists have been saying that the United States' lakes, rivers and aquifers are going to have a hard time quenching the thirst of a growing population in a warming world.
A recent report from NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences does not alleviate those fears. It showed that nearly one in 10 watersheds in the U.S. is "stressed," with demand for water exceeding natural supply -- a trend that, researchers say, appears likely to become the new normal.
"By midcentury, we expect to see less reliable surface water supplies in several regions of the United States," said Kristen Averyt, associate director for science at CIRES and one of the authors of the study. “This is likely to create growing challenges for agriculture, electrical suppliers and municipalities, as there may be more demand for water and less to go around.”
And a recent Columbia University Water Center study on water scarcity in the U.S. showed that it's not just climate change that is putting stress on water supply, it's also a surging population. Since 1950 there has been a 99 percent increase in population in the U.S. combined with a 127 percent increase in water usage.
"All cities and all businesses require water, yet in many regions, they need more water than is actually available — and that demand is growing," said Upmanu Lall, director, Columbia Water Center said to Business Insider. "The new study reveals that certain areas face exposure to drought, which will magnify existing problems of water supply and demand."
Far from a complete list of regions that may develop potential water scarcity issues across the nation (just take a look at either CIRES' or Columbia University's maps to see how widespread this issue could be in the U.S.), here are 11 major U.S. cities, listed in order of population, that could be deeply effected by water shortages in the not too distant future: